Oct 22, 2017

Dancers are the athletes of God - Albert Einstein

Images in Whitespace – putting a border on and not flowing text around

I wanted to put a border around an image – like this:

I don’t want to do it for all images and so editing the HTML code of the post is used when needed. I just add this code to the end of the ‘img’ tag:
style=”border-style: solid; border-width: thin”

Also I often don’t want text to flow around an image and to fix that, and have the text show after the image (as is the case above), I add this after the image tag:
<br clear=”all” />

Putting it all together, here is the code that produced the above image and picked up from the HTML view in the WP post editor (which is where the changes were put in):

<img title=”share_this_after” src=”http://www.brucemarriott.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/share_this_after1.jpg” alt=”” width=”347″ height=”180″ style=”border-style: solid; border-width: thin” /><br clear=”all” />

I’m sure there are clever CSS ways of doing this as well, but this is simple and gives me the flexibility I want when I want.

Whitespace WordPress Theme – Social Bookmarking options, AddThis and ShareThis

This is the little row of icons at the bottom of posts that enable easy sharing of the post/page with Twitter and Facebook etc.

I did a search and there are lots of plugins around. What I look at is when was the code last updated and does it work with my version (3.0.1). The ‘AddThis Social Bookmarking Widget’ seemed to be used by lots of sites (not just WordPress and I loaded that. All worked fine – very easy. However when it did Tweets it added on the end ‘via addthis’ and there was no easily obvious way to remove it. I did a search and found a thread in the support area of the AddThis website and it seemed to show a couple of ways it might be done – both rather technical however. The first looked easiest but just said add this javascript – I had no idea how this related to the WordPress implementation! Also as I was doing the Google up came a ‘scare’ about AddThis and privacy issues. I didn’t bother to read further, but AddThis can give you metrics on where people go etc and if you ran you own setup you could track what users do anyway. How relevant it is I’m not sure, however to keep trying to fix the Twitter ‘advertisement’ with this background seemed wrong.

Another look around and this time I went with ‘ShareThis‘. Like AddThis it is a hosted service but its instructions on use seems simpler. Of the 7 display options I configured it to use ‘Regular Buttons’ – no 5 of the 7. Using the second configuration option I changed the ordering to put Twitter first. The example image shows, to the right of each icon, the name of that social service eg Twitter. However it does not come configured like this and ‘share’ was the text next to each icon. This can be fixed in the thirs config option titled ‘Click to view/modify the HTML tags’. This has essentially the same code fragment repeated 4 times, once for each option and at the end of each fragment you find: “displayText=’share'”. You just modify the ‘share’ text to ‘Twitter’ and ‘Facebook’ etc. Annoyingly the config page seems to forget this and if you go away and look at the code again you find the changes are not there. In actuality it is all working fine but the result of his is that if you modify anything on the config page again those changes will be forgotten and need to be put in again. A small gotcha.

The only thing then was to adjust the look. As delivered the bottom of a post looked like this:

To my eye the social row seems to hover a bit and should really be closer to the line beneath.

Rather then try and style the social row itself, (to be honest I don’t entirely see how it gets injected or how it might be styled!) I concentrated on the code below and raising up the line of dots so they are nearer what went before – in this case the row of social icons.

In the stylesheet find this:

.postmeta {
width: 500px;
padding: 2px 0px 30px 0px;
margin: 0px 0px 0px 0px;
border-top: 1px dotted #C0C0C0;

and change to:

.postmeta {
width: 500px;
padding: 2px 0px 30px 0px;
margin: -10px 0px 0px 0px;
border-top: 1px dotted #C0C0C0;

The bold shows the change. Doing that gives this visual arrangement:

That’s it……….

Whitespace WordPress Theme – Some Cosmetic Changes

Whitespace is no longer available and I suspect that few are using it these days. I’ve decided to stay with it for now because I still like it an its also an excuse to do some WordPress tweaks and learn more.

Colour Change
First up I wanted to add a little bit more sparkle and the Links colour has been changed to something a little lighter:

Old: #017F8D
New: #019CAD

However for hover links I retained the old colour generally and that punches them up a bit more. The change is scattered all around the style sheet – follow your nose!

Headings Change
I also decided that having heading all in lower case seemed to make them less readable and do I commented out the forcing of it in the stylesheet:

#content h1 {
color: #000000;
font-size: 20px;
font-family: Georgia, Helvetica, Sans-Serif;
font-weight: normal;
margin: 0px 0px 0px 0px;
padding: 0px 0px 10px 0px;
/* text-transform: lowercase; */

Footer Change

I also deleted the standard blogrole that seemed to overflow the footer and also the Admin links back to WordPress and XHTML checking etc. Also in the footer I commented out the left and middle floats and did a left float twice the width and put the Tags listing in there. I decided against a classic cloud with variable text sizes and used this code:

<h2>Tags: </h2>
<?php wp_tag_cloud('smallest=9&largest=9&separator= || '); ?>

Left SideBar Change
I also created a bit more space between entries in the Recently Written list – a custom bit of CSS because I wanted all the other links in the sidebar to have the original spacing. Probably not done optimally but it works for me.

Windows XP Hibernation Fixed

Note: I run Windows XP service pack 2 – I may well upgrade to SP3 at some point but decided not to jump straight in. It may be that SP3 would have fixed this – don’t know.

Problem: When I tried to Hibernate my system it would start to go through the motions and then in the System Tray the following message would come up “Insufficient System Resources Exist to Complete the API” and the system would stay powered up. This has always been the case since I got the system – I just decided to devote time to fixing it today…

Some quick Googling lead to this Microsoft Knowledge Base Page:

Running the update patch has fixed the problem which seems to be associated with having more than 1GB of Ram – I have 4GB (of which only 2.75Gb is usable to XP).

Belkin UPS UPSD.EXE Falls Over when restarting from Windows XP Stand By

UPSD.exe came with my Belkin UPS and I think is responsible for talking directly to the UPS over USB. When it falls over the PC is not in the loop and can’t power down properly or tell you what the UPS is up to – bad news. After resuming from putting XP into Stand By, UPSD would throw up an error message that it had fallen over and did I want to send details to Microsoft etc.

A Google did not throw up much particularly, so I thought I would check for new software (which I guess shoudl have been my first response!):

I was using Belkin Bulldog Plus v 3.2.19 and a new version was released in January – 4.0.2

Installing the new version threw up lots of messages – it looks like their installer does not do a good job of uninstalling the old version. I struggled through (sorry can’t recall all I did but at some point I did a Program Stop on the System Tray Icon. If I were updating again I would stop the System Tray component, Remove all the Belkin Software and only then install the new.

But good to say that 4.0.2 plays happily with XP Stand By.

Upgrading Original iPhone to Version 2 Software – not yet I think

Well I held off a while but last night decided to upgrade my original 8GB iPhone to version 2. My phone is actually jail-broken and used on T-Mobile in the UK. No objection to O2 at all but I have a contract that is still running and which I can’t get out of.

The website I used to unlock the iPhone is: www.iphoneunlockuk.com

I suspect they just package up a solution developed by others, but money changes hands and support telephone lines are there if needed. I’ve never had to use these so how good they might be I don’t know. The website is a bit confused having grown in a topsy turvy way, but the instructions for the upgrade to 2 looked full enough and initial teething problems (with the instructions) were sorted. Some banners on the site might lead you to believe it is a one click process – this is most certainly not the case. However above all that I didn’t do what I should have done – a good net search for problems around upgrading original iPhones. Had I done this I don’t think I would have done the upgrade yet. The upgrade itself seemed to go fine however but here are the issues I have encountered and where I am now in having a great working iPhone or not…

iPhone 2.0 – Calendar Syncing problems with Outlook 2003/2007
First thing I do with any upgrade like this is give syncing of appointments a good shake – if it doesn’t work and you don’t have access to a solid diary you really are left looking like a banana head.

By problems I mean that if I create an entry on the iPhone it did not seem to sync across to the PC (Windows XP, Outlook 2003) and visa versa. Also using the Calender on the iPhone it suddenly started talking about 2 Calendars and Itunes 7.7 had created a new Calendar in Outlook called ‘Home’. A couple of entries were in it, picked from the one calendar I have always run. Where on earth all this has come from I don’t know! There must be some logic to it but goodness knows what it is. Search net and this discussion on the Apple site helped solve the issue: discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?threadID=1595598&tstart=0

Essentially it seems to come down to recurring entries not being handled properly and you need to delete them all, Sync, and then recreate them. In the thread is a way you can use export and import to help the process. I also deleted the newly created home Calender on Outlook (Go > Folder List > right click on ‘Home’ Calendar and delete ). I then checked it all, creating and modifying appointments on both sides of the sync. Getting rid of the Home stuff also means I’m back to just one Calender in both places and which everything goes in – easiest.

So I seem to be sorted but no marks to Apple for the pain and poor approach to a central need that should be rock solid.

iPhone 2.0 – Can’t locate me in Google Maps
If you go into Maps and touch the little icon at the bottom left of the screen it is supposed to bring up a map of where you are. On first generation iPhones, like mine, it does this using knowledge of where mobile phone masts and public wifi connections are. This always used to work for me with 1.1.4 software. It now doesn’t and just seems to go off into infinity thinking about where it is. More on this problem here: discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?threadID=1596432&tstart=15

UK phones seems to be particularly afflicted, whether on O2 or not, but its seems to be early days still in seeing just how big a problem this is across the population.

It’s a big issue in Version 2 because some of the applications (like Camera) are GeoTag capable and it would be nice to use the facility (even if less than 100% accurate on original iPhones because of the approximate way they establish where you are).

iPhone – General Sluggish Feel
As I move around from application to application it seems to me that each application thinks a bit longer before putting up its initial screen. And sometimes it seems to think about whether to accept the menu selection you are trying to make. It’s not cripplingly bad, but does not inspire so much confidence.

iPhone 2.0 – So whats better?
I’ve not used the iPhone store to see what applications I can download – I’ve spent too much time picking up pieces from the upgrade… Hopefully it will please me at some point.

No Copy and Paste still – which seems perverse. And no ability to read email in Landscape mode, which I’ve always wanted. In fact why isn’t the ability to work in Portrait or Landscape just generic across all applications?

All up at the moment I’ve very much underwhelmed by the upgrade and if I had my hours again I wouldn’t bother. On the other hand upgrading when Apple bring out 2.01 or 2.1 software should be easier from here and could be more difficult from where I was. All up though I get the feeling of a rushed release by Apple.

Showing the Date in the Windows System Tray

Somehow I keep wanting to know the date when I’m on the computer (running Windows XP) and its annoying to hover over the time in the system tray to get it – sometimes the hover doesn’t work even, adding more annoyance. Of course when I want to know the time I look at my watch so it would have been nice if Microsoft had made this bit of XP configurable. Alas not.

You can make the Taskbar deeper and then the date gets displayed along with the time. But you seem to be wasting valuable screen real estate then. Of course you can auto hide it (so no screen real-estate loss) but I’ve never got on well with that way of working.  So I did a search that came up with a little app called ‘DateInTray‘. I then did a search on that and Lifehacker to see if it had been recommended by them. That does two things – adds some degree of confidence to a selection and also in the discussion on Lifehacker other similar apps are thrown up that may be better.

DateInTray looked good, so I downloaded it. Well it does what it says – puts the date in the tray  but it doesn’t put it next to the existing Windows time display over on the right. At start-up it could appear anywhere and while its distinctive I really don’t want to hunt for it amidst 10-20 other little icons. So I went back to Lifehacker and LClock seemed to get good comments for its configurability.

LClock works well and replaces the existing Windows time display and with a bit of ticking of boxes duly puts up date along with the time – just what I need. Here is what it looks like on my machine – the time is 7:38 on the 8th day of the month:

LClock - showing Time and Date

Get LClock here:

The page on Lifehacker about DateInTray, LClock and other apps:

Hard Disk Problems Part 2 and GMail annoyance

Part 1 of this.

I ended up with a 250Gb Western Digital Disk which is the largest IDE drive I could readily find – newer portable PCs all use SATA of course. I used Casper XP to take a whole dick copy of the original drive and all was great. In fact performance in Explorer when looking at long directories was notably much quicker and it was a reminder that unfragmented disks are nice to live with.

Sadly Yesterday my portable wouldn’t boot – The BIOS did its initial checks but when it went to the hard disk, it just hung waiting. Putting in a (Casper XP created) whole disk backup from 3 days back, worked fine. So I ordered a new disk – this time an Hitachi 160GB unit with 11ms access time rather than the 12.5ms of the Western Digital (which I confess I had not spotted in the wish to get the largest I could!). Not sure what I will do with the Western Digital yet- I might try using it again and just accept that it was solar flair activity or one-off act of God.

Getting everything going again, based on the 3 day old backup is not so bad, but could be easier. Critical website updates can be pulled back from Ballet.co and all my email goes through GMail so I can get the inbound stuff – which is important because of material coming in from authors and loads of pictures arriving too. The only problem with GMail is that I can’t figure out how to change an email to ‘un-picked up by an email client like Outlook’ when it has earlier been picked up. I’m talking about 100 emails or so and it would have been nice to do this and the next time Outlook collected email it scooped up these emails again. What I was left with was forwarding each one – which is annoying and slow – there seems to be no way of saying forward all these selected mails. So I forward each one which goes out and then comes back in to the same GMail account but with the bits set to be scooped up by Outlook. The final twist of course is that all this email comes flagged as sent by me rather than the original author. BUT nothing is lost in this setup and that is perhaps the main thing to note. Rejoice even!

The only thing I don’t have are emails sent out and I probably ought to do soemthing about that. Probably stick a blind copy (to ?????sent@ballet.co.uk) on to outgoing stuff  and run that into GMail and use a filter to Label and archive them?

Lets see how I get on with the Hitachi drive…

Hard Disk – Impending Doom

I had a couple of innocent notes in doing whole disk backup copies of my computers hard disk. I use Casper XP (which sometime I must write about because it’s rather good) and it was not able to copy all the info in some outlook archive files… which is a bit worrying. Casper Tech Support asked for some dumps and then said I needed to run chkdsk because it looked like my hard disk has a problem…

1) Open My Computer and select Lauren C drive (C:)
2) On the File menu, click Properties.
3) Click the Tools tab.
4) In the Error-checking box, click Check Now.
5) In Check disk options, check the Automatically fix file system errors and Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors check boxes.
6) Click Start.

It actually runs next time you boot and it takes a long time – 2 hours in my case. And in the doing it reported:
“Windows replaced bad clusters in files…” 5 times.

My immediate question was “Have I lost anything or not”. and of course it turns out the cluster data is in all probability lost so there is junk in the middle of the files now I guess. Doing some net research seems to show that drives are v intelligent these days and many will look to try and cover bad clusters themselves but if you actually get one escape into the big Windows world then it probably means the drive is on the way out and needs to be replaced. Hard drives are not a thing to economise on think. So its 1 AM and I’ve just placed an order for a new drive for 24 hour delivery. £80 damn-it but hopefully some peace of mind. And having ‘cleaned’ the drive with chkdisk I’m now doing a backup which will hopefully no throw up any warnings and act as cover if something horrendous happens before the new disk arrives.

The following forum thread has a great description of how hard drives work in this area – worth a read.

Cheap 320GB 2.5 inch Toshiba USB Mini Hard Drive

I was just looking around for a cheap hard disk for backup. I have some 3.5inch USB drives, some with ESATA but they are such a pain to use because they all have external psu’s – getting them out of storage, set-up and then packing them away after, with all the cables, is all hassle. ESATA should be wonderful and fast but I’ve leaned that hot swapping Esata doesn’t work for me and I can’t be rebooting just to stick in a faster drive for 30 minutes.

On the other hand 2.5 inch drives are small and don’t need external power – worse case just access to 2 x USB ports. I have a small draw with 3 x 2.5in disks in and loads of other odds and ends. Handy, handy, handy and when you are in a rush just what you want. Just before I leave my PC to go out I always think that I should leave it doing a backup – but I’m running late of course and so to actually do it everything needs to be quick and simple. Plug drive in, click icon on desktop, return to find screen saying all is done = nirvanna and peace of mind.

Anyway I thought I’d treat myself to a new 2.5 inch drive to backup my new PC. Now that only has a 150GB drive in (thought it is a supremely fast Western Digital Raptor!) but I thought it would be be prudent and last longer to get something bigger.

I’ve been eying up the new 500GB 2.5 inch drives that have just been announced, but they are not really available yet and the all up cost of one is going to be well over £200 for some while I think. Rather too much of a premium over 3.5 inch drives.

PC Pro recently did a survey of external hard drives (3.5inch and 2.5inch) and concluded the 250GB Toshiba was a bargain at £94 incl VAT.

Well at Ebyer you can get that 250GB drive now for £74.99 incl free P&P.

However I was gobsmacked to find the 320GB drive for £94.99 including free P&P – thogh that was with an additional £5 off for some unstated reason. GB for GB that’s *not* a premium over the 250GB drive and that being the case it’s what I’ve gone with. Details here:

Will write more when it arrives…

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    I'm best known for running Ballet.co - one of the biggest sites in the world about watching ballet and dance. The Ballet.co page on this site says more or Just visit www.ballet.co.uk

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    In an earlier life I loved doing deals and now I represent some professionals involved in dance. They concentrate on the art they love and I concentrate on achieving fair terms and conditions for them. More on the LiftedLeg page.